There were some surprise announcements at today’s launch of the Destination Management Organisation’s (DMO) operational plan.
Chief Executive of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, David Thornton, has only been in the job for around four weeks, but today revealed his plans for boosting and sustaining the tourism industry on the Isle of Wight.
Welcomed new partners
David has been visiting the Island since 1968, so is well aware of what the Island has to offer, where tourism campaigns have worked and where they haven’t.
He started his presentation by confirming that as well as the founding partners Red Funnel; Wightlink; Blackgang Chine; Robin Hill; Needles Park; Island View Holidays (Rookley Country Park) and the Isle of Wight council, he could also announce that Hovertravel and English Heritage had joined as partners.
Attract and disperse
David was very keen for the Island to have a number of ambassadors to help sell the proposition, these will include high profile individuals, as well as enthusiastic Islanders, who he hoped would welcome visitors to the Island when the arrived.
Michelin-starred chef, Robert Thompson, from Ventnor’s Hambrough restaurant, had agreed to become one of three media ambassadors, who would work with the DMO on the mainland to promote visiting the Isle of Wight.
Isle of Music
He’ll be joined by Bestival founder and Radio1 DJ, Rob da Bank, who’ll be involved in mainland press briefings, highlighting the important role of music on the Island, or ‘Isle of Music’ as David hoped it would become known.
The number of younger people visiting the Island had fallen recently, so it’s hoped that with Rob da Bank’s involvement, the Isle of Wight as a holiday destination would become more attractive to that sector.
One Website to do all
A few gasps were let out around the room when David revealed that the DMO would be merging the Go Wight and Island Breaks Websites.
Explaining that it would become the “best of both and more”, the new site, which he ‘hoped’ would be fully integrated by Valentine’s Day 2013, would be tailored to the different markets looking to visit the Island.
No longer would a potential visitor have to wait two days to hear back from an accommodation enquiry, through the new Website, you’d be able to book immediately, he said.
David appeared very excited to end the (apparent) speculation of where the DMO’s office would be based on the Island.
You certainly can’t blame him for having a smile on his face as he revealed their offices would be on a private piece of land on the Osborne Estate, with a clear view of their marketing target, the mainland.
We imagine it’s going to be far more inspirational than being stuck on an industrial estate in the middle of Newport.
Widen the peaks and build up the troughs
It was good to hear that the Isle of Wight is in the top five ranked destinations in England, as far as customer satisfaction was concerned.
The Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales sit either side of the Island in the rankings. They both experience more rain than the Island, so the DMO plans to take note and build an all-year-round proposition for visitors to the Island.
The DMO would be working with the ferry companies to look at where the trends of empty ferries were and market the Island during those periods.
David hopes that with an “interwoven orchestration of marketing” the Island will become more than just a summer destination.
Working on the niches
David went on to say that the Island would be marketed not only to potential holiday-makers, but also to those in the film and TV industry as a location for shoots.
Although David revealed many broad ideas of how the DMO would work over the coming year, he kept his powder dry on the 2013 tourism strapline. We’ll have to wait until the New Year for that.
He finished by making what he called the ‘345 pledge’.
- Increase the number of visitors to the Island by 300,000
- £4m impact to be achieved annually
- All within five years
Praise for council funding
James Berresford, CEO of Visit England also gave a presentation on the state of the tourism industry in England.
He shared Visit England’s mission and how this would fit with the aims of the DMO and praised the Isle of Wight council for ring-fencing £3m over nine years for the DMO.